Full disclosure: I wrote this article about customer service actions to take in the new year in 2015 and posted it on LinkedIn. However, it was so well received that I share it somewhere every year!
Twelve Months of Customer Service Actions for 2018!
If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time during the New Year holiday wrapping up the last 12 months and planning for the next. Perhaps, like many, you make New Year’s resolutions. Hopefully, you’re one of the few who keeps your resolutions. Most of us, however, do not. Which is why I was so excited to find this blog post by motivational speaker and humorist Mike Robertson! Rather than make one resolution, Mike has chosen one ACTION to take each month of the new year to help him grow creatively in 2015. (As of this posting, 2018)
With his permission, I thought it might be interesting to lay out 12 specific customer service actions you could take in the new year that would help you improve your company culture and deliver red-carpet customer service. Here are customer service actions you can take each month in 2018.
January: IMAGINE. Gather your team sometime this month and provide each person with paper and a pen. Take some time to imagine what you would like your company culture and customer experience to look like in the coming year. Here’s an idea: Write your end of the year holiday newsletter as if it were already December, 2018. Tell your customers, friends and fans all about what “happened” in the past 11 months. Allow yourself to dream. What have been your achievements? How many new customers do you have? What’s the best improvement you made and what was the reaction? What problem did you finally solve? Have each person write their letter as if these accomplishments have already happened. Then read them out loud to each other and decide on one or two things you’ll focus on in the coming year to make those dreams come true. In January, spend some time to IMAGINE!
February: THANK. Your team members won’t roll out the red-carpet for your customers until you give them a little star treatment! In February, focus on THANKING your employees for the SPECIFIC contributions they make to the team. If you would like some suggestions, be sure to download our free report: 21 Days of Thank You on the Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc. website. If you don’t have employees, you certainly have supporters. Use this month to thank all the people who have helped you get where you are today. In February, spend some time saying THANK YOU.
March: COMMUNICATE. One of the fastest ways to improve both company culture and your customer’s experience is to communicate better and more often. You have 31 days in the month of March. If you work on a Monday – Friday schedule, you have 22 days. Take 15 minutes at the beginning of each day (or each shift) to hold stand-up meetings with your staff. Talk about the priorities for that day; let them know if you’re expecting special guests; celebrate what’s going well; and keep them in the loop. The more they know, the better they can serve your customers. In March, focus on ways you can better COMMUNICATE.
April: HAVE FUN! April 1, 2018 is International Fun at Work Day! Yet, I suggest you take the whole month of April and focus on bringing a little more fun into your company culture. Take 10 minutes in the middle of the work day for a dance break; have a potluck; or hire a massage therapist to give 15 minute back rubs. Better yet, ask your team members how they would like to have fun at work. If you’re a solo entrepreneur, build in a day this month to play hooky and just have a good time. Taking time for fun strengthen’s the team spirit and contributes to creativity. In April, have FUN!
May: ASK. The best way to find out how to better serve your customers is to ASK them. Provide a simple paper survey; a more elaborate online survey; or call customers and ask for feedback. Be ready to review their responses and prioritize the changes you must make to deliver a better customer experience. In May, ask your customers how you can better service them.
June: INVOLVE. The best way to engage your team to improve customer service is to involve them in the solution. This month, hold a contest between departments to see who can come up with the best idea for rolling out the red-carpet for customers. Let them brainstorm the customer service actions you should take in your company. In June, INVOLVE your team.
July: FOCUS ON KINDNESS. The essence of red-carpet customer service is about making that person in front of you right now feel like the most important person in the room. This comes down to kindness. Spend some time talking with your team about ways to be kinder – to each other and to your customers. Come together each week and share stories of the kind acts you saw happening in the workplace. In July, FOCUS ON KINDNESS.
August: The 10 FOOT/5 FOOT Rule. This is a terrific practice originating, I believe, with Ritz-Carlton hotels. When you pass by someone, at 10 feet, make eye contact and smile. At 5 feet, greet them in a friendly manner. Teach your team members this practice and ask them to focus on it for the month, both with customers and each other. Make sure YOU do it as well. Never ask your team to do something you’re not willing to do yourself. For those who do most of their business on the phone, focus on smiling when you make or take a call. Your smile (or lack thereof) can be heard on the other end of the line. In August, PRACTICE the 10 FOOT/5 FOOT RULE.
September: USE THEIR NAME. This month, focus on learning, remembering and using the names of your customers. Dale Carnegie told us “there is no sweeter sound in the human language than the sound of one’s own name.” I agree. When you use your customers’ name, they feel known, appreciated and are more likely to come back where they are “part of the club.” And for the record, unless you are my husband, my name is never honey, sweetie, dear, or sugar lips. In September, USE YOUR CUSTOMERS’ NAMES.
October: OWN THE ISSUE. When a question, problem or concern comes to your attention this month – tell your customer “I will do everything in my power to resolve this to your satisfaction.” Then do so. Follow through on your promises, and follow up to ensure you have a happy customer. If you can’t resolve the issue, find someone who can. However, if you see it or hear it, it’s your opportunity to help. In October, OWN THE ISSUES that come your way.
November: THANK. Yep. It’s so important that I’ve listed it twice. Focus on gratitude to your team and gratitude to your customers. For ideas, download our 21 Days of Thank You report. In November, SAY THANK YOU.
December: REFLECT and CELEBRATE! Look back and see everything you’ve achieved in the past year. What customer service actions did you take and what were the results? Celebrate with your entire team AND your customers. If it was a challenging year, celebrate the fact that you made it through and affirm that you have learned through mistakes. Write that holiday newsletter and celebrate all the ways it is similar to the “future” letter you wrote in January. Release the negatives of the past year, and raise a glass of sparkling cider to all you accomplished! The new year is a gift and a chance to re-write or add to the story. In December, REFLECT and CELEBRATE.
I hope you find my list helpful! Or, perhaps you can create your own list. The key is to come up with one concrete action for each month. Thanks again to Mike Robertson for inspiring me with his wonderful post. Thanks to all of you for visiting this website and/or subscribing to or reading my monthly newsletter. You continually inspire me with your stories of incredibly caring customer service!
Tell me, what customer service actions will you take in 2018?
Donna Cutting, CSP is the Founder and CEO of Red-Carpet Learning Systems, Inc., and leads a team of customer service experts who help leaders engage their teams to deliver a red carpet customer experience. She is the author of two books on the topic including her most recent Amazon bestseller, 501 Ways to Roll Out the Red Carpet for Your Customers. Join us on TheRedCarpetWay.tv for more customer service tips and Download our free Red Carpet Engagement Toolkit here.